Rosy's Journey by Louisa M. Alcott
Rosy was a nice little girl who lived with
her mother in a small house in the woods.
They were very poor, for the father had gone
away to dig gold, and did not come back; so
they had to work hard to get food to eat and
clothes to wear. The mother spun yarn when
she was able, for she was often sick, and Rosy
did all she could to help. She milked the red
cow and fed the hens; dug the garden, and went
to town to sell the yarn and the eggs.
She was very good and sweet, and every one
loved her; but the neighbors were all poor, and
could do little to help the child. So, when at
last the mother died, the cow and hens and
house had to be sold to pay the doctor and the
debts. Then Rosy was left all alone, with no
mother, no home, and no money to buy clothes
and dinners with.
"What will you do?" said the people, who
were very sorry for her.
"I will go and find my father," answered Rosy,
"But he is far away, and you don't know just
where he is, up among the mountains. Stay
with us and spin on your little wheel, and we
will buy the yarn, and take care of you, dear
little girl," said the kind people.
"No, I must go; for mother told me to, and
my father will be glad to have me. I 'm not
afraid, for every one is good to me," said Rosy,
Then the people gave her a warm red
cloak, and a basket with a little loaf and bottle
of milk in it, and some pennies to buy more
to eat when the bread was gone. They all
kissed her, and wished her good luck; and she
trotted away through the wood to find her father.
For some days she got on very well; for the
wood-cutters were kind, and let her sleep in their
huts, and gave her things to eat. But by and by
she came to lonely places, where there were no
houses; and then she was afraid, and used to
climb up in the trees to sleep, and had to eat
berries and leaves, like the Children in the Wood.
She made a fire at night, so wild beasts would
not come near her; and if she met other
travellers, she was so young and innocent no one
had the heart to hurt her. She was kind to
everything she met; so all little creatures were
friends to her, as we shall see.
One day, as she was resting by a river, she saw
a tiny fish on the bank, nearly dead for want of
"Poor thing! go and be happy again," she
said, softly taking him up, and dropping him
into the nice cool river.
"Thank you, dear child; I '11 not forget, but
will help you some day," said the fish, when he
had taken a good drink, and felt better.
"Why, how can a tiny fish help such a great
girl as I am?" laughed Rosy.
"Wait and see," answered the fish, as he swam
away with a flap of his little tail.
Rosy went on her way, and forgot all about it.
But she never forgot to be kind; and soon after,
as she was looking in the grass for strawberries,
she found a field-mouse with a broken leg.
"Help me to my nest, or my babies will
starve," cried the poor thing.
"Yes, I will; and bring these berries so that
you can keep still till your leg is better, and
have something to eat."
Rosy took the mouse carefully in her little
hand, and tied up the broken leg with a leaf of
spearmint and a blade of grass. Then she
carried her to the nest under the roots of an old
tree, where four baby mice were squeaking sadly
for their mother. She made a bed of thistledown
for the sick mouse, and put close within
reach all the berries and seeds she could find,
and brought an acorn-cup of water from the
spring, so they could be comfortable.
"Good little Rosy, I shall pay you for all this
kindness some day," said the mouse, when she was done.
"I 'm afraid you are not big enough to do
much," answered Rosy, as she ran off to go on
"Wait and see," called the mouse; and all the
little ones squeaked, as if they said the same.
Some time after, as Rosy lay up in a tree,
waiting for the sun to rise, she heard a great buzzing
close by, and saw a fly caught in a cobweb that
went from one twig to another. The big spider
was trying to spin him all up, and the poor fly
was struggling to get away before his legs and
wings were helpless.
Rosy put up her finger and pulled down the
web, and the spider ran away at once to hide
under the leaves. But the happy fly sat on
Rosy's hand, cleaning his wings, and buzzing
so loud for joy that it sounded like a little trumpet.
"You 've saved my life, and I 'll save yours,
if I can," said the fly, twinkling his bright eye at Rosy.
"You silly thing, you can't help me," answered
Rosy, climbing down, while the fly buzzed away,
saying, like the mouse and fish,--
"Wait and see; wait and see."
Rosy trudged on and on, till at last she came
to the sea. The mountains were on the other
side; but how should she get over the wide
water? No ships were there, and she had no
money to hire one if there had been any; so she
sat on the shore, very tired and sad, and cried a
few big tears as salt as the sea.
"Hullo!" called a bubbly sort of voice close
by; and the fish popped up his head.
Rosy ran to see what he wanted.
"I 've come to help you over the water," said the fish.
"How can you, when I want a ship, and some
one to show me the way?" answered Rosy.
"I shall just call my friend the whale, and he
will take you over better than a ship, because
he won't get wrecked. Don't mind if he spouts
and flounces about a good deal, he is only
playing; so you need n't be frightened."
Down dived the little fish, and Rosy waited to
see what would happen; for she did n't believe
such a tiny thing could really bring a whale to
Presently what looked like a small island
came floating through the sea; and turning
round, so that its tail touched the shore, the
whale said, in a roaring voice that made her jump,--
"Come aboard, little girl, and hold on tight.
I 'll carry you wherever you like."
It was rather a slippery bridge, and Rosy was
rather scared at this big, strange boat; but she
got safely over, and held on fast; then, with a
roll and a plunge, off went the whale, spouting
two fountains, while his tail steered him like the
rudder of a ship.
Rosy liked it, and looked down into the
deep sea, where all sorts of queer and lovely
things were to be seen. Great fishes came and
looked at her; dolphins played near to amuse
her; the pretty nautilus sailed by in its
transparent boat; and porpoises made her laugh
with their rough play. Mermaids brought her
pearls and red coral to wear, sea-apples to eat,
and at night sung her to sleep with their sweet
So she had a very pleasant voyage, and ran
on shore with many thanks to the good whale,
who gave a splendid spout, and swam away.
Then Rosy travelled along till she came to a
desert. Hundreds of miles of hot sand, with no
trees or brooks or houses.
"I never can go that way," she said; "I
should starve, and soon be worn out walking in
that hot sand. What shall I do?"
Wait and see:
You were good to me;
So here I come,
From my little home,
To help you willingly,"
said a friendly voice; and there was the mouse,
looking at her with its bright eyes full of
"Why, you dear little thing, I 'm very glad
to see you; but I 'm sure you can't help me
across this desert," said Rosy, stroking its soft
"That's easy enough," answered the mouse,
rubbing its paws briskly. "I 'll just call my
friend the lion; he lives here, and he 'll take
you across with pleasure."
"Oh, I 'm afraid he 'd rather eat me. How
dare you call that fierce beast?" cried Rosy,
"I gnawed him out of a net once, and he
promised to help me. He is a noble animal,
and he will keep his word."
Then the mouse sang, in its shrill little voice,--
"O lion, grand,
Come over the sand,
And help me now, I pray!
Here 's a little lass,
Who wants to pass;
Please carry her on her way."
In a moment a loud roar was heard, and a
splendid yellow lion, with fiery eyes and a long
mane, came bounding over the sand to meet them.
"What can I do for you, tiny friend?" he
said, looking at the mouse, who was not a bit
frightened, though Rosy hid behind a rock,
expecting every moment to be eaten.
Mousie told him, and the good lion said
"I 'll take the child along. Come on, my
dear; sit on my back and hold fast to my mane,
for I 'm a swift horse, and you might fall off."
Then he crouched down like a great cat, and
Rosy climbed up, for he was so kind she could
not fear him; and away they went, racing over
the sand till her hair whistled in the wind. As
soon as she got her breath, she thought it great
fun to go flying along, while other lions and
tigers rolled their fierce eyes at her, but dared
not touch her; for this lion was king of all, and
she was quite safe. They met a train of camels
with loads on their backs; and the people
travelling with them wondered what queer thing was
riding that fine lion. It looked like a very large
monkey in a red cloak, but went so fast they
never saw that it was a little girl.
"How glad I am that I was kind to the
mouse; for if the good little creature had not
helped me, I never could have crossed this
desert," said Rosy, as the lion walked awhile to rest
"And if the mouse had not gnawed me out
of the net I never should have come at her
call. You see, little people can conquer big
ones, and make them gentle and friendly by
kindness," answered the lion.
Then away they went again, faster than ever,
till they came to the green country. Rosy
thanked the good beast, and he ran back; for
if any one saw him, they would try to catch him.
"Now I have only to climb up these mountains
and find father," thought Rosy, as she saw
the great hills before her, with many steep roads
winding up to the top; and far, far away rose the
smoke from the huts where the men lived and
dug for gold. She started off bravely, but took
the wrong road, and after climbing a long while
found the path ended in rocks over which she
could not go. She was very tired and hungry;
for her food was gone, and there were no houses
in this wild place. Night was coming on, and
it was so cold she was afraid she would freeze
before morning, but dared not go on lest she
should fall down some steep hole and be killed.
Much discouraged, she lay down on the moss
and cried a little; then she tried to sleep, but
something kept buzzing in her ear, and looking
carefully she saw a fly prancing about on the
moss, as if anxious to make her listen to his
"Rosy, my dear,
Don't cry,--I 'm here
To help you all I can.
I 'm only a fly,
But you 'll see that I
Will keep my word like a man."
Rosy could n't help laughing to hear the
brisk little fellow talk as if he could do great
things; but she was very glad to see him and
hear his cheerful song, so she held out her
finger, and while he sat there told him all her
"Bless your heart! my friend the eagle will
carry you right up the mountains and leave you
at your father's door," cried the fly; and he was
off with a flirt of his gauzy wings, for he meant
what he said.
Rosy was ready for her new horse, and not
at all afraid after the whale and the lion; so
when a great eagle swooped down and alighted
near her, she just looked at his sharp claws, big
eyes, and crooked beak as coolly as if he had
been a cock-robin.
He liked her courage, and said kindly in his
"Hop up, little girl, and sit among my feathers.
Hold me fast round the neck, or you may
grow dizzy and get a fall."
Rosy nestled down among the thick gray
feathers, and put both arms round his neck; and
whiz they went, up, up, up, higher and higher,
till the trees looked like grass, they were so far
below. At first it was very cold, and Rosy
cuddled deeper into her feather bed; then, as
they came nearer to the sun, it grew warm, and
she peeped out to see the huts standing in a
green spot on the top of the mountain.
"Here we are. You'll find all the men are
down in the mine at this time. They won't
come up till morning; so you will have to wait
for your father. Good-by; good luck, my
dear." And the eagle soared away, higher still,
to his nest among the clouds.
It was night now, but fires were burning in
all the houses; so Rosy went from hut to hut
trying to find her father's, that she might rest
while she waited: at last in one the picture
of a pretty little girl hung on the wall, and under
it was written, "My Rosy." Then she knew
that this was the right place; and she ate some
supper, put on more wood, and went to bed,
for she wanted to be fresh when her father came
in the morning.
While she slept a storm came on,--thunder
rolled and lightning flashed, the wind blew a
gale, and rain poured,--but Rosy never waked
till dawn, when she heard men shouting outside,--
"Run, run! The river is rising! We shall all
Rosy ran out to see what was the matter,
though the wind nearly blew her away; she
found that so much rain had made the river
overflow till it began to wash the banks away.
"What shall I do? what shall I do?" cried
Rosy, watching the men rush about like ants,
getting their bags of gold ready to carry off
before the water swept them away, if it became
As if in answer to her cry, Rosy heard a voice
say close by,--
Rumble and crash!
Here come the beavers gay;
See what they do,
Rosy, for you,
Because you helped me one day."
And there in the water was the little fish
swimming about, while an army of beavers began to
pile up earth and stones in a high bank to keep
the river back. How they worked, digging and
heaping with teeth and claws, and beating the
earth hard with their queer tails like shovels!
Rosy and the men watched them work, glad
to be safe, while the storm cleared up; and by
the time the dam was made, all danger was over.
Rosy looked into the faces of the rough men,
hoping her father was there, and was just going
to ask about him, when a great shouting rose
again, and all began to run to the pit hole,
"The sand has fallen in! The poor fellows
will be smothered! How can we get them
out? how can we get them out?"
Rosy ran too, feeling as if her heart would
break; for her father was down in the mine, and
would die soon if air did not come to him. The
men dug as hard as they could; but it was a
long job, and they feared they would not be in
Suddenly hundreds of moles came scampering
along, and began to burrow down through
the earth, making many holes for air to go in;
for they know how to build galleries through the
ground better than men can. Every one was so
surprised they stopped to look on; for the dirt
flew like rain as the busy little fellows scratched
and bored as if making an underground railway.
"What does it mean?" said the men. "They
work faster than we can, and better; but who
sent them? Is this strange little girl a fairy?"
Before Rosy could speak, all heard a shrill,
small voice singing,--
"They come at my call;
And though they are small,
They 'll dig the passage clear:
I never forget;
We 'll save them yet,
For love of Rosy dear."
Then all saw a little gray mouse sitting on
a stone, waving her tail about, and pointing
with her tiny paw to show the moles where
The men laughed; and Rosy was telling them
who she was, when a cry came from the pit,
and they saw that the way was clear so they
could pull the buried men up. In a minute they
got ropes, and soon had ten poor fellows safe on
the ground; pale and dirty, but all alive, and all
shouting as if they were crazy,--
"Tom's got it! Tom's got it! Hooray for Tom!"
"What is it?" cried the others; and then
they saw Tom come up with the biggest lump
of gold ever found in the mountains.
Every one was glad of Tom's luck; for he was
a good man, and had worked a long time, and
been sick, and could n't go back to his wife and
child. When he saw Rosy, he dropped the
lump, and caught her up, saying,--
"My little girl! she 's better than a million
pounds of gold."
Then Rosy was very happy, and went back
to the hut, and had a lovely time telling her
father all about her troubles and her travels.
He cried when he heard that the poor mother
was dead before she could have any of the good
things the gold would buy them.
"We will go away and be happy together in
the pleasantest home I can find, and never part
any more, my darling," said the father, kissing
Rosy as she sat on his knee with her arms round
She was just going to say something very
sweet to comfort him, when a fly lit on her arm
and buzzed very loud,--
"Don't drive me away,
But hear what I say:
Bad men want the gold;
They will steal it to-night,
And you must take flight;
So be quiet and busy and bold."
"I was afraid some one would take my lump
away. I 'll pack up at once, and we will creep
off while the men are busy at work; though
I 'm afraid we can't go fast enough to be safe,
if they miss us and come after," said Tom,
bundling his gold into a bag and looking very sober;
for some of the miners were wild fellows, and
might kill him for the sake of that great lump.
But the fly sang again,--
"Slip away with me,
And you will see
What a wise little thing am I;
For the road I show
No man can know,
Since it's up in the pathless sky."
Then they followed Buzz to a quiet nook in
the wood; and there were the eagle and his mate
waiting to fly away with them so fast and so far
that no one could follow. Rosy and the bag of
gold were put on the mother eagle; Tom sat
astride the king bird; and away they flew to a
great city, where the little girl and her father
lived happily together all their lives.